"Akwaaba!" This was one of the words I heard most from the people of Ghana. Akwaaba means welcome in Twi (in addition to English, one of the more common languages spoken in the country). "You are welcome, my sister" to our country, to our facility, to the restaurant, to my shop. Upon arrival to Ghana, stepping off the plane, these are the first words you see written across the entrance to the airport from the tarmac. Throughout my 2-week stay, I never once felt that I didn't belong or was in any way unwelcome.
"Obruni", meaning white person or foreigner in Twi is another word we heard quite a lot. I was even introduced to an Obruni dance (pictures soon to come!) by some of the street children we worked with during the feeding program hosted by Sovereign Global Mission on Sundays.
"Ghana Time" is something we certainly had to adjust to while in country. Nothing is worth doing if it has to be rushed and multi-tasking is absolutely unheard of. We found ourselves having to make a quick switch from our go-go-go Western attitudes to sitting back and relaxing. It's much too hot and humid to get worked up about being on time everywhere. "The traffic is too much" and we're going to be an hour late to our 9:00 a.m. meeting time at a facility? No worries! Sit back, grab a Fanta and some sugar bread, and enjoy the time with friends. The great thing about running late in Ghana is that chances are, the person you were going to meet is running late too. Here is a conversion chart from Ghana Time to U.S. Time (taken from Stacey's blog) that we worked out - while waiting for our driver who was running late...
5 minutes= 15-20 minutes
10 minutes = 45 minutes
I am there = 20 minutes
I am ready, I am bringing it, or I will come = ~30 minutes
I'll be right back or I am just going to the next village = 45 minutes-1 hour
I am in the traffic or The traffic is too much = 10 minutes- 2 hours
I am fixing the car = you should probably take a taxi or tro-tro
It is finished = never
Although we laugh about it, there's something to be said about slowing down. Although it's hard to slow down too much for fear of being trampled in America, I think there are little things we can do. Stop and have a conversation with the person standing next to you (no doubt waiting for something) in line. Get off your phone at the grocery store and talk with the cashier or instead of balancing your checkbook and folding laundry while waiting for dinner to cook, just sit outside. There's much to be gained from sitting back a little.